Water Tubing Accidents
Tubing and other water sports are an excellent way for the whole family to cool off in hot summer months. However, the safety of water sports depends on a person’s knowledge of the sport and its safety guidelines. Find out how to avoid water tubing accidents and related water injuries in this summer article.
Water tubing accidents are becoming an increasing cause of injury in children and teens. According to the National Institutes of Health, U.S. emergency departments treated 69,471 injuries from water tubing accidents between 1991 and 2009. Over the course of this study period, the number of annual water tubing accidents increased by roughly 250 percent. Since the majority of water tubing accidents occur during the summer, this equates to nearly 65 water tubing injuries per day that receive emergency room treatment.
Types of Tubing Injuries
The National Institutes of Health report that the most common injuries from water tubing accidents are strains and sprains, which account for roughly 27 percent of documented injuries from water tubing accidents. Soft tissue injuries are the next most common, accounting for roughly 20 percent of injuries caused by water tubing accidents. Water tubing accidents are most frequently caused by loss of control by either the boat driver or the rider.
Tubing Injuries and Age
Injuries from water tubing accidents are usually caused by impact with the water or another rider. Research shows that children and adolescents are more likely to receive head injuries from contact with another rider. Conversely, adults are more likely to experience water tubing accidents that involve impact with the water. Injuries from these water tubing accidents typically occur within the limbs, such as the knees and wrists.
Water Tubing Safety
Here are some tips to help prevent water tubing accidents and injuries:
- Always wear a life vest. In the event that a water tubing accident occurs, a life vest may be the key element that prevents drowning or drowning-related injuries. Additionally, all boat passengers should wear a life vest or other personal floatation device (PFD) when onboard.
- Be familiar with your boating and tubing equipment. Following manufacturer recommendations and guidelines can help prevent water tubing accidents. Maximum towing speed and passenger size, weight, number, and age should all be considered.
- Use a “spotter,” or an additional boat passenger whose sole job is to keep an eye on those who are tubing. The spotter should notify the driver of any issues, such as falling off the tube or rider requests to slow down. A spotter can help to reduce water tubing accidents.
- Always drive responsibly to avoid preventable water tubing accidents. Be aware of all the rules and regulations for the body of water where you and your party are tubing. The driver should be fully awake, alert, and not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. The driver should also take a ride around the body of water in advance to get a feel for the area and terrain.
- Check the tow rope before accelerating. The tow rope should be free of slack and should not be tangled with any objects. If the tow rope gets caught, it can cause boat or equipment damage. Additionally, the tube can flip, leading to possible water tubing accidents.